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African interest in Chelsea Football Club evaporates after Friday deadline passes without a bid from Ghanaian Gold Magnate

By: Yaw Ampofo-Ankrah

As at 20:45 GMT on Friday 18th March, it was unclear whether the highly publicized proposal by a Ghanaian gold dealer was ready or had been submitted before the deadline to submit bids.

The Raine Group, a top US bank mandated with handling the sale, had given potential bidders until Friday to make their offers and assured that the process would run smoothly given that any hitches may increase the chance of Chelsea slipping into serious financial trouble.

In the end, it may be said that it was nothing more than a short lived hype and speculation as Africa’s reported interest in the acquisition of Chelsea Football Club did not see the light of day.

It would be naive at best, if not dishonest, to suggest that there was ever really any genuine intent to buy Chelsea by the supposed multi millionaire regarded as one of the wealthiest men in Ghana.

The debate about how “rich” or otherwise the Ghanaian politician is will continue nonetheless.

Since I have been asked so many times by fellow Africans and non Africans in London to shed more light on this mega rich gold miner from Ghana who has such big ambitions.

So for the avoidance of doubt, I proceeded to explain and keep it as simple as possible without “spoiling” Chairman Wontumi.

Usually, when gold is mentioned on the African continent, Ghana is one of the countries that immediately springs to mind.

However when the name Bernard Antwi Boasiako popularly known as Chairman Wontumi popped up as a possible successor to Roman Abramovich, there were shockwaves across the football industry in Ghana. Chairman who?

Yes. Chairman Wontumi is more famed for the colorful use of the English language on political platforms as well as his own lavish vernacular in addressing issues of national interest in Ghana.

Out of “respect” for the man, and of course the benefit of the doubt he also deserves, I have restrained from placing him in a box as just a noisy attention seeking politician.

The title Chairman Wontumi, is a name bestowed upon him by adoring followers of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

The 45 year old Mr Antwi Boasiako, announced that he was interested in the ownership of Chelsea with as much a serious tone as anyone should expect, even if much to the chargrin of some of his country men.

Those who dismissed the intentions of the Ghanaian as nonsense had to pause when his spokesman explained that the bid was not a joke or mere publicity stunt.

“Chelsea has a lasting legacy in Africa, players like Didier Drogba and Michael Essien are legends of the club; the opportunity to enhance the club’s reputation in Africa is a very tempting prospect,”

Further adding that there would be a plan to keep Chelsea at the top of English and European football, the vision was spelt out. “Restoring stability and ensuring there are no job losses are among the priorities.”

Enthusiastic talk no doubt but does Chairman Wontumi have the billions needed to take the reigning European giants to the next level after the staged collapse of the Roman Abramovich football empire ?

The answer is obviously and unequivocally a big NO.

Millionaire Mr Boasiako is believed to have made his millions through gold mining and gold trading. Currently, his net worth is believed to be 10 Million US dollars, which might not last beyond a month in the day to day running of the English giants.

It is not a fatal verdict of the man who owns and runs a number of vibrant media enterprises in Ghana, but the reality is that alone, he simply cannot pull a serious bid for the blues who need billions and not millions to compete at the highest level.

Credit though deserves to be given to his PR machinery in Ghana for putting his name on the global football stage.

In terms of spin, they have managed to milk and hog the headlines for all the right reasons even if from day one, it was just a wild adventure without a 3 Billion pounds capital to push the agenda.

Yaw Ampofo-Ankrah is a former BBC Reporter and currently the Head of iMax Media a leading Media Organization based in Accra.




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